What’s Loss of Consortium? Everything You Need to Know for Next Steps
There is no price to put on a life, or on the loss of life when someone you love is injured or lost as a result of someone else’s negligence. But the legal world does have a formula that can help you find the magic number when negligence turns your life upside down.
It’s called a loss of consortium, and that means that when someone is injured or lost as a result of someone else’s actions or inactions, you may have a claim.
If you are suffering a loss, or caring for someone that’s been injured in an accident or medical claim, keep reading to find out everything you need to know to substantiate a loss of consortium claim.
When Can Loss of Consortium Claims Occur?
A loss of consortium claim occurs when someone is injured or lost in an accident or medical situation, and their surviving spouse suffers a form of loss of companionship. A total loss does not have to occur, as the term “consortium” is a Latin term that implies a loss of being able to “consort” with one’s spouse in an intimate way.
Loss of consortium claims almost always come attached to a personal injury lawsuit, but can also occur under a wrongful death claim. The claims can only be filed if the individual is suffering as a direct result of someone else’s inactions, actions, or negligence.
If someone can not have sexual intercourse after a car accident for example, even if it is the wife of a victim, they may have a loss of consortium claim.
Loss of consortium can happen as a result of physical injury or mental distress. How much one is entitled to under this form of tort law generally depends on the entire lawsuit to begin with.
Examples of Loss of Consortium Awards
In one car accident in 2014, a teenage driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit two pedestrians in New Hampshire. Both of the women sued, but only one went to court in a two-week trial.
That woman won a $9 million dollar settlement, which included $500,000 awarded to her husband for loss of consortium.
But the loss of consortium can also occur in medical cases, such as in the case of a North Andover man who sued his doctors for failing to treat his post-surgical issues properly. That man won $9.4 million dollars which included an award of $1.9 million in loss of consortium costs to his wife.
Every loss of consortium claim is different, and every state handles their loss of consortium claims differently. Find out more about the loss of consortium laws in Louisiana for example.
How is Loss of Consortium Defined Legally?
It is very rare that a loss of consortium claim is submitted on its own, as it generally is paired with a personal injury or sometimes a wrongful death claim.
The legal tenet is that when a person is injured or killed as a result of someone else’s actions, their surviving spouse or caregiver may suffer emotional damages that arise from not being able to have intimate relations with their partner anymore.
This usually occurs in extreme situations, such as through amputation or paralysis that renders the individual unable to have intimate relations with their spouse or common-law partner.
If a medical treatment renders someone unable to perform sex for example, and that treatment was negligent, then that person’s spouse or partner may be able to claim loss of consortium.
This would be claimed in addition to pain and suffering claims, or any other civil claims the victim might launch.
Mr. Smith that is injured for example would sue, and ask for loss of consortium damages for his spouse or partner.
This type of claim is very difficult to quantify. It is very difficult to determine how much money someone should be awarded if they can’t have intimate relations or companionship with their partners or children anymore.
Loss of consortium is not always about intimate sexual relationships. If a parent loses a child, they may be able to claim loss of consortium by claiming loss of companionship when they lose a child.
The parent, child, or spouse that is making the claim would have to prove irrevocable damage and loss to be successful in their suit.
Learn how to understand damages in a car accident before you consider a consortium claim and begin racking up legal fees.
Are There Limitations To These Claims?
Every state has their own limitations when it comes to the loss of consortium laws. In most cases, you would have to prove the extent of your relationship with the individual in question, and also show how that relationship is irreparably impaired since the accident, injury, or medical experience.
Spouses that are legally married will have a stronger hold on consortium claims, and may also need to show they had an active sex life. This could make these claims difficult in a same-sex marriage.
At the same time, there may be insurance limitations, regardless of the state. If for example, your insurance has a maximum they will pay out in an accident or medical trauma, you may not be eligible for consortium claims if the requested amount exceeds that cap.
Consortium Claims After Death
Many consortium claims occur after an individual has been incapacitated or injured and is no longer able to have intimate relations with their lifetime partner.
But that can also happen in the case of a parent and child relationship, with a parent claiming consortium if they lose filially or family companionship after a loss of a child.
A child can also claim consortium if a parent is killed, and is unable to care for them any longer or is a sole parent that is the chief provider in that child’s life.
If a child is no longer able to go to soccer practice or compete on an Olympic team for example because they lost their parent, they might have a consortium claim.
But at the same time, a widower can also claim loss of consortium in the event of a tragedy such as a fatal drinking and driving accident.
Even so, proving the loss of consortium could be very difficult.
Preparing for a Consortium Claim
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident or medical trauma, you want someone that could be negligent to pay, as you should.
Not being able to have intimate relations with your most precious person in the world could be a significant loss, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically get paid out for it.
Filing a loss of consortium claim is going to be an emotional process in itself, wherein you will be asked to prove your injuries, prove its extent in your life, and also prove that you can’t “consort” with your partner intimately anymore.
At the same time, you’ll have to show this changed your life significantly. And what that means is that you will have to show you had a healthy intimate life before the accident, and thus are suffering an actual loss.
This could be embarrassing, stressful, and awkward, in even the most provable cases.
But you will also have to prove your legal partnership, living arrangements, care arrangements before and after the injury, and even life expectancy.
And every state is different. After showing all of this to the court, you may still not get very much.
Ohio, for example, has a cap on damages that are noneconomic in nature, and that cap is set at $350,000. You could be amputated and receive a multi-million dollar award in pain and suffering, medical costs paid, but still not get much for the loss of consortium.
To some, going through the time and trouble of proving the consortium has been lost may not be worth it in states with these regulations.
But you will never know unless you talk to an expert on that area of law.
Contact Consortium Experts
Loss of consortium claims can land a plaintiff anywhere from a few thousand to over one million dollars in awards. They can arise as a result of medical malpractice, or any form of accident or injury that leads to a loss of sexual or intimate companionship between husband and wife.
One Philadelphia jury has awarded a man over $1 million in loss of consortium damages after his wife suffered negligence in a pelvic mesh surgery that resulted in multiple surgeries to correct initial damage.
This was a successful loss of consortium claim, but not all are successful and require intricate planning and preparation. A Las Vegas man, for example, sought a loss of consortium award for his wife when a sign at MGM Resorts fell on top of him.
In that case, the jury did not deny that he was injured, but they did doubt the extent of his injuries and how much he should be awarded in his personal injury lawsuit against MGM.
In many cases, loss of consortium damages are difficult to prove without an experienced attorney. Contact Babcock Trial Lawyers for your consortium questions to determine if you have a loss of consortium claim that could help you out after you have suffered a significant loss of companionship related to your most intimate personal relationship
If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 414-6499 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even. Call Stephen. -Stephen Babcock